The Alimond Show

Alex Bracke of The Valor Group at REAL Broker

January 11, 2024 Alimond Studio
The Alimond Show
Alex Bracke of The Valor Group at REAL Broker
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever wonder how skills from one career field could translate into an entirely different one? In our latest episode, former law enforcement officer turned successful real estate mogul, Alex, shares his unique journey. Leveraging the work ethic and dedication from his days in uniform, Alex made a significant career shift, establishing himself in real estate and founding the Valor Group.

Alex's story isn't just about career transformation. It's about purposeful growth, thoughtful marketing, and impactful agent attraction strategies that are leveling up the real estate industry. As we delve deeper into Alex's journey, we learn the powerful lesson of consistency over virality in video marketing, and how shared interests with clients can be a game-changer. Not forgetting his roots in law enforcement, Alex also guides us through home security essentials, a nod to his past life, and a valuable lesson for all homeowners. 

Wrapping up our lively chat, Alex illuminates the transformative power of early career coaching. Drawing from his personal journey, he unveils how mentorship enabled him to achieve a decade's worth of progress in just two years. From building a successful team to fostering a thriving business culture, Alex offers invaluable tips for burgeoning business owners. Tune in to gain insights into the benefits of investing in coaching early in your professional journey.

Speaker 1:

You've been doing video for a while. You're one of the first agents in our area to go strong on video.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I didn't go strong enough. I did a lot of very early adopters like Bombomb, doing email embedded or video rather embedded in email, but I didn't go hard enough fast enough on just video content in general.

Speaker 1:

Why do you say that?

Speaker 2:

I mean even right now. I mean we're putting out yeah, I'm putting out about a video a day, maybe sometimes a little bit more than that, but I'd love to get that number up more than that.

Speaker 1:

Are you like one of those Gary Vee followers? That's like 30 videos a day.

Speaker 2:

I would love to. I would love to. I mean, I think we're all in the business of just attention or attraction, attention or retention, and very rarely does a video actually go viral, and so it's really just a whole lot of content and media that gets a little bit of attention and all of it then adds up to something big. So there's notion that you can put a video out and get like a million hits or something. Not that it never happens, but it's kind of like hitting the laundry right. You're better off just hitting a whole bunch of singles to win the game rather than trying to always shoot for the home run.

Speaker 1:

Now, what are you currently doing and what are you hoping to get more into in terms with video marketing?

Speaker 2:

In video. So I am working a lot in agent attraction. So the type of video content that I have always produced was very I'm in real estate, so real estate agent to home buyer, seller centric if that makes sense and what I realized.

Speaker 2:

I mean I still love doing that. I mean that's the core of my business, but what really makes my heart sing is helping other agents maybe level up their business. I say the real estate industry has been very kind to me. I don't come from a background I didn't grow up with lots and lots of money, and so being able to have the life that I have through the real estate industry is something that I never imagined possible.

Speaker 1:

Well, you say it's not. It's been very kind to you, but you've also put in a lot of energy, effort and hard work.

Speaker 2:

Well, yes, it's true I tell folks I don't really know how to do a job less than 110 miles an hour. I had the same work ethic when I was a cop, but the paydays looked a lot different.

Speaker 1:

Right and the even if you worked harder, it didn't change.

Speaker 2:

Not like it does here. Yeah, so hard work is just that sort of the minimum barrier to entry wherever I think I would be, but business and maybe it would have worked in any business I went into I happened to choose real estate, so I guess I got a 10.

Speaker 1:

Why did you leave being a cop? Why did that? Why aren't you?

Speaker 2:

still a cop. A lot of reasons For me. I was one of the guys like I knew I wanted to be a cop from the time I was three, like very early on. I just always knew that was going to be what I was going to do and it never dawned on me that I wouldn't retire as a cop. I think there were a couple final straws for me. One was I was pretty good at what I did. I had really good numbers, had lots of arrests that I would make for legit crimes, conviction rates over 99% and oftentimes many years. My numbers were three times that of the next closest person in the department and in spite of that I recognized that I didn't end up controlling my own destiny.

Speaker 2:

If there were disagreements about how active or proactive I was working, again, I wouldn't necessarily have the ability to control the destiny of my own career, and so that was eye-opening. Number one I never imagined that would be the case. If I did a good job, I'd just assume that would be rewarded. But number two it was I wanted a different life for my family, my wife, my kids. Again, if it was just me, if I didn't have a wife and kids, maybe I'd still be chasing tail lights in a cruiser, but I wanted a different life for them. And the point at which my vacation my one vacation in five years at the time was being dictated and told no, I couldn't take it because they were short staffed. That was sort of like OK, like this. I didn't sign up for this.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's a good reason.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So then you did, you immediately jump into real estate.

Speaker 2:

I mean, look, I had never considered again that I wouldn't retire as a cop. So I was like, ok. I had no backup plan. So it became like, if not policing, then what? And at that time I had bought a house, I had sold it, I had bought another one, used three different real estate agents every time.

Speaker 1:

And why did you use different agents every time?

Speaker 2:

just because the actual stat right now I don't know if it was back in the time it was something like 86% of consumers say they would use their real estate agent. Again, only 11% actually do. So I didn't have any overtly negative experience any of those three times, but it was never like an experience that wowed me, that made me think like wow, like that was a great experience working with that person, and so I kind of kept walking away from each of those feeling like man, I feel like this could be done better. And so it was a lot of late nights in a cruiser kind of reading books and finding out like, is there a place for somebody who, again at the time rewinding time here it was younger, a little techier and just maybe had a little bit of different slant on how the business could be run. And it felt like to me, after doing some reading and research and soul searching, like yes, in fact there probably was a hole in the market that I could maybe fill Awesome, so yeah, Quick question is Valor Group.

Speaker 1:

Is that your group? Yes ma'am, when did you start that?

Speaker 2:

So Valor Group, we unveiled the brand late 2019. So it's been almost exactly four years ago now.

Speaker 1:

Can you tell me a little about the name, how you branded it?

Speaker 2:

So my old brand I joke with folks about this my old brand for my team was the Alex Bracky real estate group.

Speaker 1:

That's what I remember.

Speaker 2:

Which was really not compelling to anyone but me or my mom, you know it. Just, it didn't speak to anybody and I fell into that trap. I think that so many times entrepreneurs do is we try to be somebody for everybody and in doing so, appeal to no one right. And so I actually had an experience with a very good friend of mine. He was also former law enforcement and he was starting a business called Ridgeside Canine and he ended up showing me like this brand that he had come up with and the logo for it before he ever started it, and I said, ah, man, erin, I don't Erin.

Speaker 1:

I didn't say Erin.

Speaker 2:

I said Erin, I don't know man. I said that brand really kind of pigeonholes you. It feels very military police. I said you're kind of pigeonholing yourself, but you want that for your dog. Well, and so, yeah, so fast forward now. I mean, erin has the third largest dog training business in America and so, as I feel like any good entrepreneur should, kind of licks the wounds of a bruised ego and says, hey, what do I know Like that worked. And so, having been in business a little bit longer now I realize that that really is the smarter play is stand for something right. You know, do our people upset by the fact that we're a brand that focuses on police, firefighters, military and allies? Maybe, but you know, we probably weren't gonna be a good fit anyway, exactly. And so, so long as we're just kind of putting out there who we are, what we stand for, we're going to attract more of the clients that we really wanna work with and, you know, maybe losing some that we weren't gonna be good fits with anyway along the way.

Speaker 1:

I think it's brilliant. I think people need to double down on their branding and I'm very hypocritical in that. But I'm starting to find my legs and be okay with some people saying you know what? I can't believe that you feel that way. I will never work with you. And it's like, oh, that hurts at first, and then it's like it's okay, cause at the end of the day, they're gonna find somebody that's gonna they weren't gonna be a raving fan anyway, 100%. Yeah, but it does hurt your ego at the beginning.

Speaker 2:

Little bit little bit Okay.

Speaker 1:

So then, from 20, you said 2019, you officially started the Vella Group. Right Between 2019 and today, what has changed in your business? How have you grown? What are some of your marketing strategies? Oh my gosh.

Speaker 2:

So, you know, I mean we really just have kind of doubled down on that, that brand, that niche, everything you know, for instance, we we I believe, knock on wood, we're still the only team in all of America that we have a program called Homes for Cops.

Speaker 2:

So the idea is that when, back when I bought a house, when I was a cop, I really hated the fact that when I bought this house, my name and home address were gonna be tied together in land records searchable by anybody who wanted to find out where my wife and kids slept while I was at work. And this is this is a problem that I think most cops recognize and are just, you know, it's just one of the necessary evils. And so we actually came up with, like I said, I believe the only of its kind in all of America still a program to help folks buy a home with some level of anonymity. And so now we've used that program for local police, you know, federal, three level three letter agencies, defense attorneys, prosecutors, state troopers, I mean you name it military special operations.

Speaker 1:

What does anybody need to know where you live, though? Doesn't everybody get that ability to remain on this.

Speaker 2:

In my opinion they should, but that's apparently not the way that it works.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I was just thinking about this the other day. I actually I don't want people to know where I live. Like you just said, it it's very easy to look up.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, and you know it's kind of scary, especially when you're in a profession where that's your job is to be coming into contact with folks To be a target, essentially To be a target For people that are gonna be upset with you, right, because you're serving justice.

Speaker 2:

And what I recognized was look, I mean, people that might want to do me harm would see me as well. I'm a little bit of a harder target. I have specialized training and experience. I'm kind of six foot two and 250, like I'm a harder target, but I've got a wife and kids, that's a much easier target. And so that to me was something that terrified me. Yeah, because I can't always protect them right, and so, yeah, so it was a major problem that I knew was out there. There was no solution and we came up with one, right, and so I feel like that's just the definition of good business.

Speaker 2:

And so how did we change? I mean, we always had that program, but now, kind of doubling down on the brand and this is who we stand for, it would just reinforced. It kind of brought more to the surface some of the advantages that we bring. We partnered with a charity that's called Pause of Honor that they help when the service dogs are ready to retire, often early in life. The medical expenses, which are very frequently a lot, they're very expensive. They actually become property of the handler, right, it's just the military member or the police officer. They have to shoulder those expenses for the dog because the agency stops paying for it. And so that charity Pause of Honor, they offset those medical expenses for the duration of the dog's life and so we partnered with that charity again, somebody that's on brand. It's a cause that I care deeply about and it just seemed to make sense. So we really just tried to double down everywhere we could on the brand to represent who we are and just be a truer representation of who we are.

Speaker 1:

How do you feel like the Northern Virginia has embraced that, or have you had pushback on it, or what's been your experience?

Speaker 2:

You know I can literally count on one hand I feel like how many times I explained to a prospective client who we were and what we stood for and had pushback like, oh well, I hate cops, and so you know.

Speaker 1:

You're like well, probably not a good fit.

Speaker 2:

Well, that's just it. And again, there's nothing wrong with that. You're allowed to hate cops, right? I don't personally agree. But to each their own. But I mean, I would rather, I would rather, and I'm sure they would rather, find out that we're just gonna be oil and water right Before we end up wasting each other's time.

Speaker 1:

Here I have another question. And how would, if they never knew you were a cop, do you, like you know cause my I would double down on this belief that I don't care what my client's personal beliefs are. I'm gonna serve them the best way possible, and for them to know what my personal beliefs are again is not gonna affect any of that. I feel like it's only been recently, in the past four or five years four years really where this has become like such an important thing in business, where people are wanting to know what do you support? Don't you support? Cause, if you don't support the things that, or if you support the things that I don't support, then I will not support your business. Like, what are your thoughts around that?

Speaker 2:

I think it's one of those things that I can't control and I can't change.

Speaker 1:

So you embrace it.

Speaker 2:

It just is what it is right. I mean, I try to identify the things that I do have control over and do the best I can to positively influence those, while at the same time recognizing things that I can't control and relegating those to go take whatever shapes they're gonna take. I do think it's important for me again not so much to push away the people that don't fit with my brand as much as it's important to me to bring in those that do, and I feel like you can't have one without the other. You either have to put your stake in the ground and say, hey, this is who I am and what I stand for, in hopes that it attracts the right people.

Speaker 2:

As a byproduct of that, it may push some folks away, but ultimately I love the business that I have now far more than I ever did the business that I had before, and I think a lot of that is just I'm now working with folks that right. We have so much in common, you know. I mean it's a very different experience for me as a former cop to go into a home showing with somebody who also is a former cop or SWAT team or something right. We look at things just very differently than maybe somebody who doesn't have that experience right In terms of God forbid you ever have to defend that home. Like, how do you do it? These are the things that we just normally would bring up in conversation.

Speaker 1:

All right, quick question. Sorry to cut you off.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, no.

Speaker 1:

Only because, before you came, I was having this conversation with Will. What are five things that you should do to protect your home? God forbid you ever have to protect your home.

Speaker 2:

So the most obvious ones, honestly, are oftentimes the cheapest, like light. Like you know, most times I think, in all of the years I was in law enforcement, only one time did I ever see Like a front door kicked in right, like like a burglary. Very rarely do they happen that way where it's like really forcible entry, not that they don't happen, but it's rare. More times than not the burglaries happen because of their crimes of opportunity. Right? So you've got somebody that's just trying the back doors to see which ones open so they can come in and maybe try to steal medication out Of the medicine cabinet. Right, that's the way more common, robert. So they don't like to be trying door handles in a whole lot of light, you know, in the middle of, in the middle of the night. So just keeping your home well lit is an easy one. Making sure the doors are locked right, both the house and the cars, that's. That's a very common one that folks wake up. The car was unlocked and now look at ransacked.

Speaker 2:

You know, I think, having a plan. You know having a plan in mind, because you know when we, as you know, just human behavior is, if something negative is happening and you freeze, that's because mentally you just locked up because you hadn't necessarily processed through. What am I going to do in this scenario? Or I've never lived this scenario before and so I don't have any experience, right. That's why, like military and police, you train and you train and you train and you train, so that when crazy stuff happens, you automatically go into action, right. So I think, just having a plan, right, we of course, we always hope that nothing bad happens, but in the same way that you would plan and, you know, have your Predetermined meeting spot, should there ever be like a fire, right, what do you do if you hear a door gets kicked in right in the middle of the night?

Speaker 2:

Not stuff that we like to think about, but these are the things that I think Cops and no tell like we. Just this is what we think about, because that's the world we lived in. And so, just having a predetermined plan, you know how, how are you? Do you go to the kids or do kids come to you? Like little things, right, and so I don't know if that's five, but these, these are some of the easy things to do that oftentimes cost a little bit of money and sometimes get overlooked. Yeah, no, that's good. Do you recommend like window coverings?

Speaker 1:

like keeping you know, like all that Covered. Does that really matter? Not so much.

Speaker 2:

I think well, I think a lot that it's just sort of your own personal comfort zone, right? I mean, when I lived in a townhouse and had other townhouses immediately behind me, like yeah, like I did, I didn't want my neighbors like watching me cook dinner, you know, like it's just kind of weird. Now you know I'm fortunate and that I don't have Anybody immediately behind me, so I'll tell you we don't. We don't have window coverings on the floor, we don't have window coverings on the back of our house, because it's nothing but cows are back there, you know, typically on a good night. So you know, I'm less concerned about it. But it's just kind of your own personal.

Speaker 1:

Preference. You know that's good. I like the plan part too, Like yeah, like who's going where, what happened and all that stuff. Sorry, I had to sidetrack that.

Speaker 2:

No, no, no it's just having this conversation.

Speaker 2:

Well, it's funny, like the first time. So when, when my wife and I, when we went and looked at the house we live in now, um, it literally like this is just again, this is how we look at things. We, you know the the upstairs has a big hallway and is open on both sides. To you know, one is the foyer and one is the family room. And that was my. The first thing I said is, oh, this is Part of my friend, this is gonna be a defend right Because we, I'm open on both sides. Uh, and so immediately it was like okay, how, how am I gonna do this? Um, and so we, you know we've got our plan and what we're gonna do if that should ever happen. But, um, the plan's there.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I'll ask you once the cameras.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, happy to tell you.

Speaker 1:

Um, okay. So then, in terms of um growing your business, do you have? How many people are on your team now?

Speaker 2:

So we've got seven agents plus myself. We've got what? Uh? One, two, uh admins on the back side, um, and a marketer, a full-time marketing person.

Speaker 1:

That's nice. You got somebody in there to do the marketing. Yes, not just y'all take turns.

Speaker 2:

Oh, thank god it would. Uh, it would be a hot mess if it was just me.

Speaker 1:

In terms of like growth. Are you happy with your team now in terms of the size, or are you looking to grow because you know more agents?

Speaker 2:

no problems sometimes um, yeah, I mean, look, I I think For me, I've never been one that I have some arbitrary number in my head. Um, I want to help People change the financial bloodline of their family through real estate sales. That's what I, that's, that's sort of the mission, that's what I really makes my heart saying, that's what I love doing. Um, if that's, you know, the six or seven people on my team, great. Uh, if it's 25, sweet if it's one, so be it right.

Speaker 2:

But I want to work with folks who want that goal and are willing to really work for that goal themselves.

Speaker 2:

Right, those are two very distinctly different characteristics, uh, and so, for me, whatever that number looks like, right, and I do, look, I do think they need to Fit a little bit of of the brand, not that they have to come from that background, right, we have agents on our team that weren't prior military, they're not prior police or firefighters, but they are certainly allies, you know.

Speaker 2:

They do support, or they have folks in their family that were, you know, so they can understand and relate to the clients that we work with. Um, and and honestly, I mean, if I'm being honest, part of itself serving, right, I like to work with folks that again Are are similar to me, because that was the one thing I realized I hadn't considered when I left policing was how much I was going to miss just that brotherhood, right. I mean that is a real thing. And you know, to leave that and just not really have another outlet for it was hard, and so being able to recreate that with other folks that again live that and felt that and have shared experience makes the job so much more fun.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, no, that's really yeah In terms of you for fun. Do you actually have any hobbies? Is there anything that you do for fun outside of growing business and managing family time?

Speaker 2:

That's a fair question. So I do it like we are one of these families that we discovered during COVID that we love to RV. So we bought an RV during COVID when you know, we weren't able to fly places and travel and we found out we just we love it. So we're actually on our second RV now. It's a 40 foot RV and we love to take that out whenever we get the chance. We're big into outdoors, we like to hike, you know, love to go see the leaves when they change, love to see the spring when. I love it, yeah, love to see spring when, when everything's greening up again. I mean we just we like to get out and just be outside. So for me, you know, I guess I'm fortunate in that I like doing things like hard work right, like there's few things in my life, you know, that are better than just being able to get on my John Deere mower and just sit on it for an hour and a half doing these ridiculously straight lines right in my yard.

Speaker 1:

Make a pretty cut. So are?

Speaker 2:

we do I do the criss-cuts, the the kind of a checkered look. We absolutely do that. But that's just, you know, to get out and go chop wood or the. You know, the stuff that most normal folks don't like doing. That's, for some reason, what I'm drawn to.

Speaker 1:

Do you grow up doing stuff like that, or did your dad do it growing up?

Speaker 2:

We I mean I think anybody from you know 70s, 80s babies. I mean we. Yeah, we were outside all the time. No, I wasn't like chopping wood when I was seven, but I just yeah, like. I like to, I like to work with my hands and I like to be outside. And my wife my wife calls it tinkering. I like to tinker around the house.

Speaker 1:

Stop tinkering and come in and eat dinner 100%, that's me.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, that's. I say I'm not, I'm not maybe the most sophisticated in the world, but I like what I like.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, no, I love that. Okay, so, in terms of advice, tips, just this can be generalist, can be specific to business owners, it can just be like something you feel like the world needs to hear right now. What message would you have?

Speaker 2:

So right now, one of my favorite things to talk about is exit strategy. I feel like a lot of folks come into business with big ideas, and many of them are very, really good, right, and they develop amazing businesses, but very few folks ever want to continue doing that business until the day they die, like like you know. So, unless that's your plan to sell houses, until you just drop over dead one day, presumably you want to get out of the business somehow, and very, very few folks actually have a plan to do that or have identified what. What does that look like? And so for me, that's kind of what I've been geeking out with lately is what are the different ways to exit a real estate business? How? How can that come to fruition?

Speaker 2:

And there are a lot of ways to do it, but I think you know business with anything. If you don't have a target, it's really hard to hit it, and so you have to. Even when you start in business. It might be your one or two, but you should have some idea in your mind as to what that exit strategy looks like so that you can be working toward it, taking steps in furtherance of that goal, rather than just flying by the seat of your pants and suddenly 20 years are gone and you might not be any closer to an undetermined goal than you were on day one. So for me that's, I think, important in any business but real estate too is have an exit strategy defined. It may change over time, but have that exit strategy and then break it down into smaller parts and figure out what are your goals along the way to eventually exit the business.

Speaker 1:

How did you learn about this, by the way? Are you just kind of doing research, figuring out on your own? Do you have a mentor, coach, somebody that's helping you navigate it?

Speaker 2:

I've hired yeah, I've had a business coach almost every single day that I've been in business, with the exception of the first nine months. I hired a business coach nine months into business and have really never been without one since.

Speaker 1:

Have you? Do you trade them up as your business kind of changes and evolves?

Speaker 2:

100%, okay, 100%, yeah. I've had I'm gonna ballpark here maybe 11 or 12 different coaches in my career. I'm working with another one now that I just hired about two months ago, and every time you jump to another one, obviously they have their own skill set and whatever they specialized in, and so each one is helping you climb a little bit further up the mountain than maybe the last one did, and so I think it's really important to even if you have a great business coach, I think it's important to at some point switch and get the perspective of somebody else, because they're gonna come at it just a little bit differently.

Speaker 1:

I love that you're investing in yourself that way.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think, and for many years I've said, that's probably the one smartest thing I did was investing in coaching early, early, early on in my career.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's smart A lot of people. It's hard for them to spend money, you know just like the beginning to spend money.

Speaker 2:

I remember the first yeah, the first coach I hired, and it was a hell of a lot less expensive than the ones I hire now. And I remember back then just thinking, god, I have a hard time justifying this right, and now it's just such a no-brainer to me, yeah yeah, it's one of those things that you gotta do.

Speaker 1:

it see the results of it to be like, oh my gosh, I'm so happy that I did this, Whereas if you're trying to explain it to somebody who's never done it, they can't wrap their heads around it.

Speaker 2:

Well, I think the biggest thing is like just the notion of compressing time right, being able to circumvent the learning curve. What would take you, on your own, 10 years to figure out I was able to have accomplished not because of me, but because of the folks that I was being mentored by but I was able to achieve that in two years, right. So I took 10 and made it two, and so if you do that now spread out over a 10 year, 20 or 30 year career, I mean, what does that look like?

Speaker 1:

I mean, it's- it's 100 years of education.

Speaker 2:

Right, right, and so it's you have exponential difference. Yeah, that's great.

Speaker 1:

Thank you so much, Alex, for being on the channel.

Speaker 2:

No, my pleasure.

Speaker 1:

It was great learning more about you diving a little bit into your story.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely so, that's right. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it. Thanks, guys.

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